New county lines team help smash nearly a dozen Rochdale drug lines before dawn as Op Avro lands in town

Operation Avro made an emphatic landing in Rochdale this morning with the town’s anti-gang team smashing nearly a dozen known drug lines and detaining ten suspected dealers before dawn.

From midnight onwards, ten addresses were targeted across the town to disrupt the supply of class A and B drugs.

We arrested seven men and three women – aged between 20 and 32 – who will be questioned by our Rochdale Challenger team today (Thursday 28 April) on suspicion of conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

As part of the operation, we alerted thousands of potential customers that we had dismantled the lines by sending a stark message to all phone numbers connected to the drug lines: “your number has been identified as being in contact with a County line… and we have taken control of this line.”

Contact numbers offering help and advice for vulnerable people being forced to sell drugs – or those needing support for drug use – were also shared as part of the notice.

The phone lines are believed to be controlled by gangs operating from the Rochdale area, with the couriering and supply of drugs going from the town across Greater Manchester and potentially beyond.

Part of our enquiries into the organised crime groups is the potential criminal exploitation of children and vulnerable adults, as we ensure that the exploiters are prosecuted and the exploited are protected.

The action is one of the first since the launch of our dedicated county lines team following the announcement earlier this month that the Home Office has named us as the fourth police force in the country to receive funding to target the county lines drug networks that are destroying lives and tearing apart communities.

Over the next three years we’ll be receiving an annual sum of £1.5million to invest in the specialist team that will include experienced detectives and expert research and intelligence officers that will work with our 12 local Challenger teams to conduct investigations to identify the controllers of the phone lines used to push drugs to vulnerable people, and close down that drug network for good.

The drug-related arrests this morning were some of the 19 made in total as part of Operation Avro before dawn broke over Rochdale – with other offences including burglary and domestic abuse.

It’s the seventh edition of GMP’s monthly blitz on local crime that matters to local people, and we will be issuing regular updates throughout the day on arrests, enforcement, and community engagement.

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